A thug jailed for brutally torturing a student in a horror five-hour robbery dies in prison after he took drugs and alcohol.
Lee Thomas — from Kensington, Liverpool — was jailed for robbing, torturing, and inflicting "severe psychological harm" on a 26-year-old university student in 2017.
He was found dead in his cell at HMP Garth in Leyland, Lancashire.
The Prisons And Probation Ombudsman (PPO) Has Uncovered A Series Of "Unacceptable" Shortcomings Surrounding His Death
Per PPO reports, Thomas had been locked in his cell at 5 pm on the day of his death.
Around 7:53 pm, an officer noticed he was slumped in a chair and didn't respond when the officer tried to speak to him.
The officer then called a colleague for assistance, but neither of them opened Thomas's cell. They instead radioed for help.
The PPO report noted seven minutes passed before an intervention team opened the cell door. And when they did, they found Thomas had vomit in his mouth, wasn't breathing, and had a faint pulse.
The team then radioed the prison's control center, requesting an ambulance. However, the operator misheard their request and didn't call for one until 8:07 pm, when a staff nurse asked again.
At 8:33 pm, the paramedics came to his cell, but it was too late. They declared him dead at 8:47 pm.
A spokesperson for the PPO wrote:
"In total, there was a delay of around 14 minutes from when Mr. Thomas was first identified as unconscious until the ambulance service was contacted."
"While we cannot say whether an earlier call to the ambulance service would have made a difference to the final outcome, this was an unacceptable delay."
How Did He Get Drugs And Booze To His Cell?
According to the toxicology report, Thomas had a dangerous cocktail of prescription drugs, "psychoactive substances," and alcohol in his system.
A fellow inmate also told PPO that he had seen Thomas drinking booze and "taking tablets," leading to "concerns" about how he could obtain illicit substances in prison.
Following his death, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice released a statement, writing:
"Our thoughts remain with Mr. Thomas's family and friends."
"We have implemented all of the Ombudsman's recommendations, and staff at HMP Garth have received additional emergency training."
Thomas Was Serving A 14 And A Half Years Prison Sentence
On July 15, 2017, Thomas and another man, identified by the courts as Michael Andrews, bumped into the unnamed student in the early morning hours.
The student had been on a night out but left his home, intending to walk to McDonald's for food. That's when he bumped into Thomas, who tricked him into joining him at a party at his apartment.
However, when they went to the apartment, there was no drinking and no conversations.
Instead, Thomas locked the door, put his hood up, grabbed a metal bar, and said to the victim, "you're going to die now, mate."
Terrified, the victim handed his kidnappers the £30 he had in his wallet. But Thomas told him they needed £1,000 or they would murder him.
Thomas Subjected The Victim To Racial Abuse And Threatened To Put A Knife "Up His A**"
When he told them he didn't have it, Thomas and Andrews stripped him naked, bound his hands, blindfolded him, and then punched and struck him with unidentified objects.
Thomas and his culprit then carried the victim, who's black, to another room and tossed him on a bed.
The thugs then forced him to call his cousin and ask for money to be transferred into his bank account.
Shortly after, a third culprit showed up at Thomas's apartment, who agreed to accompany Thomas and serve as a lookout as Thomas burgled the victim's home.
Despite later claiming to feel "sorry" for the victim, they stole his iPad and laptop.
The victim's lawyer, Louise McCloskey, told the court:
"[The victim] recalled having something like oil poured onto his back and the sound of a lighter being flicked with the words' let's just burn him and leave him here.'"
Luckily, the victim managed to escape when Thomas and his culprits drove him to the bank to transfer the money he had received from his cousin.
Thomas and his thugs were later arrested and sentenced to jail.